Friday, April 11, 2008

'Resistance!' - anti-war music video



First used as a symbol of resistance by US soldiers in Vietnam expressing their opposition to that War, the Greek letter "Omega" (also used to represent the term for electrical impedance, the "ohm"), is again being seen in locations across the USA and the world as a rallying icon for a new stand against oppression, fascism and war. Set to music of the same name, written and performed by Peoples Glorious 5 Year Plan (pg5yp.net), "Resistance" is intended as both an emotional statement and an educational work.

Peaceout

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoVU5nGeFCI

The Relevance of Rexroth

From: Chapter 3: Society and Revolution
 
The state is basically a protection racket. The fact that it incidentally provides a few beneficial services merely camouflages its essential role as enforcer of the money-commodity economy, without which most of the artificially maintained conflicts of interest that now provide a pretext for the state would lose their rationale. "The state does not tax you to provide you with services. The state taxes you to kill you. The services are something which it has kidnapped from you in your organic relations with your fellow man, to justify its police and war-making powers." Rexroth quotes Herbert Read to the effect that "anarchism possibly may sound impractical, but certainly less impractical than the modern capitalist nation-state would sound if described to someone in another civilization; and it is obvious that nothing else will work; any form of State is bound to fail from now on, and fail disastrously."
 
[ ... ]
 
The ultimate influence of the Libertarian Circle seems to have been as much cultural as political. Flourishing from 1946 into the early fifties, it was perhaps the first major focus of the postwar ferment that came to be called the San Francisco Renaissance. Some of its participants went on to found Pacifica radio station KPFA, several experimental theater groups and numerous little magazines; others included many of the poets and artists who were to be influential in the Bay Area over the next two decades.

Rexroth was in the thick of all this. In addition to his vital role in the Libertarian Circle, he hosted weekly discussions, seminars and readings in his own home, and in numerous articles, interviews and KPFA broadcasts he lambasted the cultural and political establishments and heralded the new dissident tendencies. At a time when most commentators were complacently declaring that the age of experiment and revolt was over, he began to see new signs of hope. In his pioneer article "Disengagement: The Art of the Beat Generation" (1957) he wrote: "The youngest generation is in a state of revolt so absolute that its elders cannot even recognize it. . . . Critically invisible, modern revolt, like X-rays and radioactivity, is perceived only by its effects at more materialistic social levels, where it is called delinquency."

[ ... ]

Rexroth had perceptively discerned the first signs of a new revolt at a time when most commentators were blind to such a possibility; but he saw this revolt in largely cultural or spiritual terms. When more overtly confrontational struggles arose he tended to dismiss them as mere symptoms of social collapse and clung to his previous strategy of subtle moral and artistic subversion. This can be seen even in the one such struggle for which he does show a certain enthusiasm, the May 1968 revolt in France.

Probably the most significant thing about the explosion in France is the revelation of the moral bankruptcy of the establishment. Neither the General nor the leaders of the Communist Party had the faintest idea of what it was all about. De Gaulle had no explanation except the sublimely comic one that it was all due to the Communists. The Communists, with just enough insight to be really scared, indiscriminately denounced the revolt — both of the rank and file leaders of the striking workers and of all the youth — with savage, unbridled abuse. . . . Whatever the temporary settlement in France, this rejection of the immense, deadly system of false values which has ruled the age of commerce and industry will not stop.

This is true enough as far as it goes; the problem is that he does not go any farther. It is typical that he recognizes the May revolt as a rejection of a system of false values but scarcely examines it as an attempt to supersede a system of social organization. He never analyzes its origins, its goals, its innovative tactics or its conflicting tendencies — all matters of greater significance than the "revelation" of a moral bankruptcy that had long been obvious.

[ ... ]

Rexroth sees his alternative society as a "new society within the shell of the old," but he never envisions just how it might break the shell and actually supersede the old society. He seems only to have a vague hope that a "saving remnant" of people quietly practicing authentic community in the interstices of the doomed system might somehow keep the flame alive. Even if this offers little chance of averting thermonuclear or ecological apocalypse, he feels that it's the most satisfying way to live while you're waiting for it.

If the alternative society becomes a society of ecological Bodhisattvas we will have reached the final confrontation — mutual aid and respect for life, full awareness of one's place in the community of creatures — these are the foundations for an alternative society. . . . They're not likely to win; the time is gone, but at least they can establish a Kingdom in the face of Apocalypse, a garrisoned society of the morally responsible which will face extinction with clean consciences and lives as happily lived as possible.

Rexroth was speaking out on the threats to the ecology decades before most people had ever heard of the word, and it becomes more obvious every day that he was only too right about their seriousness. A viable global ecological balance is a delicate matter — once it is upset beyond a certain degree it becomes impossible to reverse the trend. There are now numerous well-known ecological abuses which if not promptly corrected could soon pass the point of no return. Even those that are stopped now may continue to have delayed effects for years. And of course most are still scarcely curbed at all, and are unlikely to be so as long as the system exists in which powerful interests can derive short-term profits from them.

It is my opinion that the situation is hopeless, that the human race has produced an ecological tipover point and is rushing toward extinction, a species death that will be complete within a century. This is quite without any consideration of the hydrogen bomb . . . . But assuming there is a possibility of changing the society's "course in the darkness deathward set," it can only be done by infection, infiltration, diffusion and imperceptibly, microscopically, throughout the social organism, like the invisible pellets of a disease called Health.

This brings us back to poetry and song, which Rexroth sees as among the most effective means of such "infection."

Underground song, he says, goes back at least as far as the medieval Goliardic lyrics of wine, women and satire (popularized in Carl Orff's Carmina Burana and more recently recorded in the original versions). In France he traces its development from the sexual mysticism of the troubadours and the bohemian underworld of François Villon through the nineteenth-century poètes maudits and cafés-chantants to Georges Brassens and other post-World War II singers, who are "responsible for the greatest renaissance of song in modern times" and for "the replacing of the acquisitive appetite with the lyric sensibility." Brassens, he says, "speaks for the hardcore unassimilables with complete self-awareness. He knew that he and behind him his ever-growing following could not and never would be assimilated, and he knew why, and he said so in every song, whatever that song was about. With him the counter-culture comes of age."

In America Rexroth traces a parallel evolution from the traditional ballads, folksongs and blues to the countercultural singers of the sixties. He distinguishes authentic folksongs — the "natural expression of an organic community" — from pseudofolk protest songs, most of which he considers laughably corny, if not worse: expressions of the Social Lie. Some of his own poems, of course, contain explicit radical statements, but he always rejected the notion that the arts should be subordinated to "progressive" demands. He felt that lyrics that communicate genuine personal vision are ultimately more subversive than explicit propaganda. Poetry, he says, "produces a deeper and wider and more intense response to life. The presumption is not that we will be better men — that's up to us — but that deeply familiar with poetry, we will respond to life, its problems, and its people, its things, objects, everything, in a much more universal way, and that we will use much more of ourselves."

 

Globalisation and war by Susan George

 
International congress of IPPNW, New Delhi, 10 March 2008

Corporate-led, finance-driven globalisation has successfully transferred wealth from labour to capital. This has resulted in inequality and exclusion on a massive scale which, combined with the pressure on water and other environmental resources, is likely to fuel new conflicts.

First let me thank IPPNW for this invitation to speak at your 18th World Congress. It's a great honour and I'm very grateful since I have admired your work for many years. I would especially like to thank Doctors Arun Mitra and Christoph Kraemer who went to a great deal of trouble on my behalf.

The subject you've asked me to discuss, "Globalisation and War", is vast and we may as well begin by defining terms so that we are all reading from the same page. "Globalisation" is a much abused word, rather like "development", and doesn't mean much unless accompanied by a couple of adjectives and an explanation. My adjectives would be "neo-liberal", "corporate-led", "finance-driven", or whatever else evokes for you the present phase of world capitalism—the kind of capitalism others have called, turbo- or super- or hyper-capitalism.

Globalisation is "corporate-driven"; it's the system which allows transnational business and finance to invest what they want where they want; to produce what they want; and to buy and sell what they want, everywhere, with the fewest restrictions possible coming from labour laws, social conventions or environmental regulations. That definition is not mine, it is that of a prominent European business man. Globalisation is also "finance-driven": we need only look at the vast mess in the financial markets today to see how free to operate they have been. Government officials who are supposed to be regulating these markets no longer have a clue what is going on. Let us recall too the slogan that Klaus Schwab gave to this year's festivities in Davos: "The power of collaborative innovation". Well, the finance people have certainly been innovating like mad and now, after having collected enormous bonuses, they want the taxpayers to bail them out, as usual. The United States Congress is working with their representatives on legislation to do that right now. The corporations and the banks demand deregulation until they get themselves into trouble, but in that case, of course, State intervention is justified.

Since this talk is about globalisation and war, here is an initial opportunity to make the link to war. In a book just launched, The Three Trillion Dollar War, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and his co-author Linda Bilmes, explains how American spending on the war in Iraq actually encouraged Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve to flood the American economy with cheap credit, leading to the housing bubble, the consumption boom, and the biggest budget deficit in history. We have an opportunity to learn how the Iraq war indirectly led to hundreds of thousands of US families losing their homes.

On its own terms and for those in the forefront driving the process, corporate-led, finance-driven globalisation has been extremely successful. They have accomplished exactly what they set out to do. The whole point of capitalism is to make as large a profit as possible and to increase so-called "shareholder value", so the result, when successful is systematically to transfer wealth from labour to capital. We now live in what John Maynard Keynes called a "rentier economy"; the kind in which you make money while you sleep because you own capital. Measured by its own yardsticks, the system is booming. Profits of transnational corporations have been running at record levels and shareholders have been demanding, and receiving, returns of 10, 15, even 20 percent a year, as, for example, British banks have supplied, at least until this year. Tax havens and offshore companies shelter the wealth of the companies and of rich individuals, as the ongoing scandal in Germany and other European countries is making clearer every day.

The number of millionaires and billionaires, including now four in India, has escalated steadily so that now there are about nine and a half million people, or about one for every 700 people on earth, that the brokerage house Merrill Lynch calls High Net Worth Individuals who together possess, in liquid funds, some 37 trillion dollars—that is 37 followed by 12 zeros. This is about three times the GDP of either the United States or of Europe and more than a dozen times the GDP of India. So globalisation has been extremely good to those at the top of our various societies. We have statistical proof also that the share of added value accruing to capital is swelling as the share of labour declines—in Europe, capital's share has risen to about 40 percent, compared to 25 percent thirty years ago.

The benefits of globalisation for ordinary people have been far more problematic, particularly in the mature capitalist countries that I know best. Business quite correctly sees two great obstacles to higher profits which are labour costs and taxes, and it has consequently concentrated on reducing both. Mass layoffs have become common. Workers are placed in competition with each other throughout the world. Within Europe itself, wage differences are already on a scale of one to ten; worldwide, they are at least one to thirty. This means a race to the bottom for working people while wages, benefits and working conditions are pushed downwards. Such competition now affects not just industrial production but any kind of work that can be done on a computer. I would warn even Indians, some of whom have so far profited from these trends, that there is always someone prepared to work for less than you—as the Malaysians and even the Indonesians have discovered.

The numbers also show huge and growing inequalities between people, both inside individual countries and between countries. The more neo-liberal, anti-regulation, pro-free trade a country is, the greater the inequalities are. No one disputes these growing disparities: those who defend neo-liberal globalisation argue that it pushes the floor upwards for everyone—a highly disputable proposition in a world where a billion people live with the purchasing power of a dollar a day and half the world with that of less than two dollars.

Furthermore, we know that transnational businesses, finance corporations and wealthy individuals contribute less and less proportionally in taxes to national budgets. This means that ordinary people, consumers and local businesses pay more than their fair share. It means that governments are hard-pressed to provide services to their populations because their revenues are under steady pressure. Internationally speaking, treaties are also designed to be extremely business-friendly. For example in the case of the agreements under the auspices of the World Trade Organisation, the thousands of pages of rules are careful to protect the interests of finance and business but are totally silent on labour, the environment or human rights. The new Lisbon Treaty for Europe, in process of ratification by parliaments, has 410 articles in which the word "market" is used 63 times and "competition" 25 times, but "social progress" gets three mentions, "full employment" one and "unemployment" none.

Marxists put exploitation of labour at the centre of their discourse. This may have been the case in the nineteenth century, but I would suggest that they are now missing the point. Today it is almost a privilege to be exploited. The real problem is that globalisation takes the best and leaves the rest. Of course it exploits, but more than that, it excludes. We must face such facts however much we may deplore them. There are huge regions in which the drivers of globalisation take little or no interest. Present day globalisation is not interested either in the hundreds of millions of people who do not produce within the market system and consume so little that they scarcely register. We should above all stop asking the "market" to solve our social problems. Markets can and do perform extremely valuable services in some areas, but social services are not among them.

A quite famous person wrote the following: " 'All for ourselves and nothing for other people' seems, in every age to the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind". This observation comes not from Machiavelli or Karl Marx but from Adam Smith. I think we can take this great theoretician of capitalism at his word when he explains to us how the capitalist masters of mankind—today the sort of people who meet in Davos, can be expected to behave. They may be individually kind and generous, but as a class, they will conform to Smith's law. The real globalisation debate is therefore not about whether the phenomenon is "good" or "bad"—because globalisation is a fact, not an option. The real debate in my view should concern what is in the market and what is not; what is a marketable commodity and what is not. Should water be subject to the laws of the market? Health? Education? Public services? Basic foodstuffs? Energy?

Before even attempting to attack such questions, please let me stress that the system I have been describing, despite the huge rewards it has provided for some, is in crisis. It got a huge push with the end of the Cold War, which opened up virtually every place on earth to the forces of international capital, but it is now in serious trouble. International financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund that used to smooth the way for mass privatisations and universal market-orientation are much less important than they were even a decade ago. The Fund is sacking staff. The World Trade Organisation has been deadlocked for nearly three years. I've already mentioned the woes of the financial system and the incipient recession, which will spread from its epicentre in the United States to the rest of the world. Oil, mineral and basic food prices have hit all-time highs so that inflation is also a risk.

What is the relationship of all these features of the present world economic system to war and violence? Again, please allow me first to define terms: my definition of serious conflict will be the one used by various peace research institutions: a thousand or more deaths due to armed conflict. So we are not just talking about State actors but also about civil wars, terrorist attacks and so on. I want also to argue, perhaps unconventionally, that other, new, determinants of violence are growing more and more common, like environmental stress, and already contribute to increased disruption and death.

IPPNW was founded a quarter century ago in the context of the Cold War and the super-powers' nuclear arms race. So it may seem to many of you a kind of heresy to say that those times, although surely terrifying in their own way, also provided a strange kind of stability. No place on earth could be considered unimportant by the super-powers because any place could become a base, a staging area, a strategic pawn for the other side. Today the situation is radically changed. There are a great many places that are not worth bothering about; they are full of losers, of the excluded, the hundreds of millions seens as rubbish people, both disposable and dispensable. There are quite a few loser States as well. We, on the other side of the fence, instead call them failed or rogue States.

Let me start with the individual losers and their relation to conflict. Such people and groups are much more conscious of their situation than they used to be. Many studies have shown that the sense of injustice relates less to the absolute level of one's purchasing power and status in life than it does to the comparison with others. Inequalities are increasingly visible everywhere. Lots of ordinary people in Europe are witnessing the tax haven scandal; lots of people in the United States are being thrown out of the houses they can no longer afford to pay for—and they can see that there are big winners and big losers. Even in poorer societies, nearly everyone has at least some access to television; half the human race now lives in cities, many of them made up largely of slums. Resentment is growing. People do not ask themselves what they may have done wrong; they ask, rather "Who has done this to us?". Because they cannot usually touch the kinds of people they may see on television, they may take out their grievances on their neighbours of a different ethnic group, as we have recently witnessed in Kenya. You don't need nukes—machetes and matches will do as well to murder thousands, if not hundreds of thousands. All such conflicts can be traced to their economic roots.

Free trade, the bedrock of neoliberal globalisation, also takes its toll. One of its consequences, clandestine immigration also results in untold numbers of deaths. The NAFTA, the free trade agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico has caused the ruin of hundreds of thousands of poor, small Mexican farmers, unable to compete with cheap corn now flooding the country from the US. Plenty are trying to get into the United States; just as Africans and North Africans take enormous risks to reach Europe or Bangladeshis to get into India; creating further instability and broader terrains for conflicts. It is often US and European policies that close off all other economic avenues to people, except for immigration. Yet the response is always to use the army, the police and various security measures, not negotiation and policy change.

As if all this were not enough, the planet, the environment is also in crisis. We already know that climate change is creating massive flows of refugees. As their numbers continue to swell, what will our governments do? Shoot them? Bomb them? Tell them to commit suicide? I'm not trying to be sarcastic, simply realistic, because I see little planning for the crises that we know loom ahead and mass attempts to emigrate are certainly among them.

The links between conflict and the water crisis are as clear as water itself. Water stress and scarcity is increasing, due to the deadly combination of population growth, increase in human-induced global warming, corporate control and use of water, pollution and so on. In this context, the struggle for control over environmental resources is deadly serious.

In 1991, the then Secretary General of the United Nations, Boutros Boutros Ghali, warned that the next wars would be not about oil but about water. In 2008, the present SG, Ban Ki-moon, told first the people in Davos, then the UN General Assembly that water wars already existed. He laid particular stress on the crises in Kenya, Chad and especially Darfur, which some have begun to call the "first climate change war". The Nobel Peace Prize Committee took a quantum leap in recognising the connections between ecological damage and warfare and the risk of environmental war by giving the 2007 prize to Al Gore and the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change.

Marc Levy, a scholar at Columbia, is working to establish the water and conflict link scientifically. He works with the International Crisis Group and is combining databases on civil wars and water availability, showing that "when rainfall is significantly below normal, the risk of a low-level conflict escalating to a full-scale civil war approximately doubles the following year". Among other cases, he cites the areas of Nepal where there was heavy fighting during the Maoist insurgency after severe droughts; whereas there was no fighting in other parts of Nepal that had not suffered drought. Levy's case studies also point out that drought causes food shortages and promotes anger against the government. In such cases, "semi-retired" armed groups often re-emerge and start fighting again.

The International Crisis Group has placed 70 conflict hotspots on its "watch list" and Levy is in process of compiling rainfall data for all of them to see if this evidence can help predict increased conflict. His approach will undoubtedly help to flag places where wars are most likely and, although the work is far from finished, the data strongly support the finding that for civil wars, "severe, prolonged droughts are the strongest indicator of high-intensity conflict". "I was surprised", adds Levy, "at how strong the correlation is".

Military strategists are also acutely interested in the probability of water wars. A Professor of Political Military Strategy at the US Army War College has published a long scholarly article entitled "The Strategic Importance of Water" in which he points out that of the world's 200 largest river systems, 150 are shared between two nations and the remaining 50 are shared by three to ten nations1.

As we all know, the Middle East is especially fragile and three rivers, the Nile, the Tigris-Euphrates and the Jordan are central to present and potential conflict. the former president of Turkey, Mr Demirel said "We do not ask Syria and Iraq to share their oil. Why should they ask us to share our water? We can do anything we like". The Jordan is at the heart of the Israel-Jordan-Syria-Lebanon-Palestine dilemma. Thanks to the territory it captured in the 1967 war, Israel is in control of water to which it simultaneously restricts Palestinian access. As one military observer has noted, "Israeli strategists always name control over water sources as one critical factor making necessary, in their view, retention of at least a part of the occupied Arab territories." As for the Nile, nine States share its waters and Egypt is the last one downstream. Egypt has made quite clear that it is willing to go to war against any of the eight upstream states in order to preserve its access to the Nile, on which it depends for 97 percent of its water.

As this audience will know better than anyone, the Indus is an element of the India-Pakistan conflict and the Ganges plays the same role in India-Bangladesh relations. The combination of water scarcity and nuclear weapons does nothing to ease the minds of military strategists in these regions or elsewhere. And may I add here that one of the best arguments against nuclear reactors, quite apart from their inherent dangers and the insoluble problem of radioactive wastes is the huge amount of water they require in order to remain functional. Nuclear reactors are the biggest industrial user of water and in a water-stressed country like India, it is quite possible that the authorities will be faced with the deadly choice of taking thousands of cubic meters of water from local communities or shutting down the reactors. After the cooling process, the water is re-injected into the environment but at a much higher temperature, so it can do great damage to local ecosystems.

Even if we recognise, as we should do, that complex events like conflicts can never be ascribed to a single cause, there seems no doubt that water will remain an exacerbating factor, particularly since it is intimately connected to other vital national needs, like food. Various factors ascribable to globalisation have caused grain prices to escalate dangerously, leaving poor countries especially open to shortages and introducing another common denominator of conflict.

One could elaborate on these crises, but it is important to note that worldwide, these various systemic crises—of the economy, of massive inequality, of the environment, of migration, of resource-shortage, of so-called "failed States" and so on—all these increase the dangers of military response. In the poor world, the poor will mostly fight against the poor as the system of exclusion and environmental disasters create more and more struggles for mere survival. Poor people already live in the most threatened areas; the elites are growing quite good at creating their local enclaves and fortresses, but these may not protect them forever. To prevent their collapse, they will increasingly employ the military to control populations perceived as troublesome, superfluous and irrelevant.

One cannot find great cause for optimism at the global level either. As the United States loses influence in other areas and its economy weakens, it will rely increasingly on its unquestioned military dominance, becoming thereby even more dangerous than it is today. The present extension of the network of US foreign military bases is one key to this strategy. Multilateralism will become even more frayed as even some NATO partners, for example, refuse to go along with so-called "coalitions of the willing". Already, these coalitions are being replaced by "coalitions of the coerced" or simply with mercenaries, as in Iraq. The next US elections are crucial: remember that John McCain is the grandson and the son of military commanders, and a Navy man himself. Faced with crisis, his first reflex is not likely to be confined to diplomacy and negotiations.

It is time, perhaps past time, for me to conclude and to ask if and how we can emerge from the present crisis. We face the oldest moral question in the world, whether for religions or for secular political bodies as well as for social movements and civil society organisations. What do the rich owe to the poor, the fortunate to the less fortunate, the educated to the uneducated; the healthy to the ill? Do these obligations, if there are any, apply only to the people in our own societies, to our own countries, or to everyone, everywhere? The kind of globalisation we choose—and I assure you that it is a choice, not a fate to which we must submit—will determine whether there is peace or war. In my mind, there can be no peace without justice.

The other big question concerns the laws and regulations we should demand, in our own interests, so as to keep the market under control and to protect the planet from further destruction. How can we make sure such laws are put in place, particularly in the international arena where there is no democratic machinery? If we do not have enforceable laws and binding rules, the vile maxim of "All for ourselves and nothing for other people" will continue to prevail, nationally and internationally. We especially need rules which oblige societies to share because, if we are to believe Adam Smith, this is not going to happen spontaneously. This means that we need taxes, including international taxes, in order to promote individual welfare, social cohesion and—the subject that has brought all of us here to the IPPNW Congress—peace.

Let me say once more now in closing how grateful I am to IPPNW for asking me to speak here—not just for the personal honour, but because I see this invitation as a sign of recognition on the part of your organisation that the peace movement and the movement that has come to be known as the "alter-globalisation" or the "global justice" movement have got to come together and join forces. I see your gesture in inviting someone who has participated in the global justice movement since it began, as visionary. So far, on both sides, we have failed to make the crucial links between peace and global justice movements, either theoretically or practically.

The 15th of February 2003 was a magnificent, history-making day, when all over the world millions came out to protest the invasion of Iraq, but we did not then know how to remain allies and struggle together in the longer term. The magnificent momentum of that day was somehow lost. As we approach the fifth anniversary of this terrible war, whose disastrous consequences will continue to reverberate throughout the world for years to come, let us recognise concretely that our movements will either succeed together, or fail separately. Failure is unthinkable, the stakes are too high. We must choose success, we must choose each other.

Thank you.

Note

1 Some particularly important river systems have a great many nations with an interest: the Nile [9]; the Congo [9]; the Zambese [8]; the Amazon [7]; the Mekong [6];.the Tigris-Euprates [3]

Water and war - The neglected equation

Central Asia's Looming Water Wars
 
Tajikistan is thirsty, and this past winter has faced severe electricity shortages because its hydroelectric power plants froze. Indeed, since the Pamirs in Tajikistan see the head of so many rivers that flow into neighboring countries, Tajikistan has seen a rise in tension over water use rights and national boundaries along the Ferghana Valley.
Things moved a step forward last month: on March 26, about 150 Tajiks (both civilian and government) crossed the Tajik-Kyrgyz border and destroyed a Kyrgyz dam in the volatile Batken region that had blocked an irrigation canal for a nearby Tajik village. Though chased away by gun-wielding Kyrgyz border guards, the Tajiks claimed they were simply respecting a 1924 border, since they never ratified the 1958 one.
 
Given the other ethnic tensions simmering under the surface of Ferghana, this was fairly small potatoes, though the World Bank probably wishes its $300,000 dam hadn't been destroyed. And a full discussion of the many issues facing the sometimes-ambiguous borders in Central is beyond this post (though our friends at neweurasia.net have done so quite brilliantly, and there is a blog devoted to the subject). But the border dispute is important for another reason: it represents one of the many lengths countries—or at least the people in countries—will go to achieve resource stability.
 
The next major conflict in the Middle East - Water Wars

When President Anwar Sadat signed the peace treaty with Israel in 1979, he said Egypt will never go to war again, except to protect its water resources. King Hussein of Jordan has said he will never go to war with Israel again except over water and the Untied Nation Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has warned bluntly that the next war in the area will be over water.
From Turkey, the southern bastion of Nato, down to Oman, looking out over the Indian Ocean, the countries of the Middle East are worrying today about how they will satisfy the needs of their burgeoning industries, or find drinking water for the extra millions born each year, not to mention agriculture, the main cause of depleting water resources in the region. 
All these nations depend on three great river systems, or vast underground aquifers, some of which are of `fossil water' that cannot be renewed. 
Take the greatest source of water in the region, the Nile. Its basin nations have one of the highest rate of population growth which are likely to double in less than thirty years, yet the amount of water the Nile brings is no more than it was when Moses was found in the bulrushes. 
The shortage:
Although all natural water resources are replenished through the natural hydrological cycle, their renewal rate ranges from days to millennia. The average renewal rate for rivers are about 18 days - that is to renew every drop taken out - while for large lakes and deep aquifer they can span thousand years. 
The world's oldest reserves such as the Nubian aquifer in North Africa were filled when water infiltrated the earth's subsurface in past geological years. When we refer to fossil water in an aquifer, it is water trapped since the ice age and there is no certainty how long it would take to replenish them, thus it safe to conclude that mining their water is only a temporary solution. 
The oil boom in the Gulf and other Middle Eastern states, desalination became an industry. In 1990 over 13 million cubic meter were produced each day world wide using 7,500 plants, yet this represents just under one thousandth of fresh water consumption per day. 


Water will be source of war unless world acts now, warns minister
The world faces a future of "water wars", unless action is taken to prevent international water shortages and sanitation issues escalating into conflicts, according to Gareth Thomas, the International Development minister.
The minister's warning came as a coalition of 27 international charities marked World Water Day, by writing to Gordon Brown demanding action to give fresh water to 1.1 billion people with poor supplies. "If we do not act, the reality is that water supplies may become the subject of international conflict in the years ahead," said Mr Thomas. "We need to invest now to prevent us having to pay that price in the future."
His department warned that two-thirds of the world's population will live in water-stressed countries by 2025. The stark prediction comes after the Prime Minister said in his national security strategy that pressure on water was one of the factors that could help countries "tip into instability, state failure or conflict".

"The world water crisis is definitely very bad, particularly because it deals with mismanagement of water and how governments have failed to secure the involvement of local communities in the management of water," says Sunita Narain, director of the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment, and the 2005 winner of the prestigious annual Stockholm Water Prize. "We, as societies, have failed to use small amounts of water for bringing large productivity gains," she said. However, today the world water crisis faces yet another challenge -- one of climate change, Narain told IPS. "And it is this challenge which the world is completely failing to do anything about, and which will jeopardise the water security of large numbers of people, who already live on the margins of survival," she declared.
Responding to a question, Berntell admitted there is a "world water crisis" judging by the number of people without safe drinking water and basic sanitation. And this, he said, "in a world which has the financial wealth and technical wherewithal to solve these twin scandals". "We must find better ways to manage water resources, in so far as water pollution is concerned, and to meet the food requirements of a human population which will expand by over 3.0 billion people in 2050." "We also must meet the water-climate challenge. Everything could become much more desperate and severe in the future if the proper steps are not taken," he added. So, it is important, Berntell argued, to make a distinction between the water resource crisis -- which is primarily caused by an overexploitation of water resources for agricultural and industrial use, as well as pollution -- and the water service and sanitation crisis.
In a statement released Wednesday, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said many rivers in developing countries and emerging economies are now polluted to the brink of their collapse. "The Yangtze, China's longest river, is cancerous with pollution due to untreated agriculture and industrial waste," IUCN warned. Meanwhile, arguing that water shortages will drive future conflicts, the U.N. secretary-general says the slaughter in Darfur -- described as "genocide" by the United States -- was triggered by global climate change. "It is no accident that the violence in Darfur erupted during the drought," Ban said. When Darfur's land was rich, black farmers welcomed Arab herders and shared their water. With the drought, however, farmers fenced in their land to prevent overgrazing. "For the first time in memory, there was no longer enough food and water for all. Fighting broke out," he said. "Water is a classic common property resource. No one really owns the problem. Therefore, no one really owns the solution," he declared.


California Water Wars
From 1905 through 1913, Mulholland directed the building of the aqueduct. The 233 mile (375 km) Los Angeles Aqueduct, completed in November 1913, required more than 2,000 workers and the digging of 164 tunnels. The project has been compared in complexity by Mulholland's granddaughter[7]to building the Panama Canal. Water from the Owens River reached a reservoir in the San Fernando Valley on November 5. At a ceremony that day, Mulholland spoke his famous words about this engineering feat: "There it is. Take it."
After the aqueduct was completed in 1913, the San Fernando investors demanded so much water from the Owens Valley that it started to transform from "The Switzerland of California" into a desert. Inflows to Owens Lake were almost completely diverted, which caused the lake to dry up by 1924. Farmers and ranchers tried to band together to sell water rights to Los Angeles as a group, but again through what historians called "underhanded moves"[8], Los Angeles managed to buy the water rights at a substantially reduced price.
So much water was taken from the valley that the farmers and ranchers rebelled. In 1924, a group of armed ranchers seized the Alabama Gates and dynamited part of the system. This armed rebellion was for naught, and by 1928, Los Angeles owned 90 percent of the water in Owens Valley. Agriculture in the valley was effectively dead.
[ ... ]
In 1970, LADWP completed a second aqueduct. In 1972, the agency began to divert more surface water and pumped groundwater at the rate of several hundred thousand acre feet a year (several cubic metres per second). Owens Valley springs and seeps dried and disappeared, and groundwater-dependent vegetation began to die.
Because LADWP had never completed an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) addressing the impacts of groundwater pumping, Inyo County sued Los Angeles under the terms of the California Environmental Quality Act. Los Angeles did not stop pumping groundwater, but submitted a short EIR in 1976 and a second one in 1979, both of which were rejected as inadequate by the courts.
In 1991, Inyo County and the City of Los Angeles signed the Inyo-Los Angeles Long Term Water Agreement, which required that groundwater pumping be managed to avoid significant impacts while providing a reliable water supply for Los Angeles, and in 1997, Inyo County, Los Angeles, the Owens Valley Committee, the Sierra Club, and other concerned parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding that specified terms by which the lower Owens River would be rewatered by June 2003 as partial mitigation for damage to the Owens Valley due to groundwater pumping.
In spite of the terms of the Long Term Water Agreement, studies by the Inyo County Water Department have shown that impacts to the valley's groundwater-dependent vegetation (e.g., alkali meadows) continue. Likewise, Los Angeles did not rewater the lower Owens River by the June 2003 deadline. As of December 17, 2003, LADWP settled a lawsuit brought by California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, the Owens Valley Committee, and the Sierra Club. Under the terms of the settlement, deadlines for the Lower Owens River Project were revised. LADWP was to return water to the lower Owens River by 2005. This deadline was missed, but on December 6, 2006, a ceremony was held (at the same site where William Mulholland had ceremonially opened the aqueduct and closed the flow through the Owens River) to re-start the flow down the 62 mile (100 km) river. David Nahai, president of the L.A. Water and Power Board, countered Mulholland's words from 1913 and said, "There it is ... take it back."[10]
Groundwater pumping continues at a higher rate than the rate at which water recharges the aquifer, resulting in a long-term trend of desertification in the Owens Valley.


U.S. and Global Water Wars Loom
At home, especially in the Southwest, regions will need to find new sources of drinking water, the Great Lakes will shrink, fish and other species will be left high and dry, and coastal areas will on occasion be inundated because of sea-level rises and souped-up storms, U.S. scientists said.
The scientists released a 67-page chapter on North American climate effects, which is part of an international report on climate change impact.
Meanwhile, global-warming water problems will make poor, unstable parts of the world -- the Middle East, Africa and South Asia -- even more prone to wars, terrorism and the need for international intervention, a panel of retired military leaders said in a separate report.
[ ... ]
The military report's co-author, former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, also pointed to sea-level rise floods as potentially destabilizing South Asia countries of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Lack of water and food in places already the most volatile will make those regions even more unstable with global warming and "foster the conditions for internal conflicts, extremism and movement toward increased authoritarianism and radical ideologies,'' states the 63-page military report, issued by the CNA Corp., an Alexandria, Va.-based national security think tank.
Kristi Ebi, a Virginia epidemiologist on the scientific panel, said reduced water supplies globally will hinder human health. "We're seeing mass migration of people because of things like water resource constraint, and that's certainly a factor in conflict,'' she added.


Africa's potential water wars
The main conflicts in Africa during the next 25 years could be over that most precious of commodities - water, as countries fight for access to scarce resources.
Potential 'water wars' are likely in areas where rivers and lakes are shared by more than one country, according to a UN Development Programme (UNDP) report.
The possible flashpoints are the Nile, Niger, Volta and Zambezi basins.
The report predicts population growth and economic development will lead to nearly one in two people in Africa living in countries facing water scarcity or what is known as 'water stress' within 25 years.
Water scarcity is defined as less than 1,000 cu.m of water available per person per year, while water stress means less than 1,500 cu.m of water is available per person per year.
The report says that by 2025, 12 more African countries will join the 13 that already suffer from water stress or water scarcity

Actually, there is a fourth strategy: Steal water from others. That's where Water Wars comes in.
In ancient Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions, the ultimate source of the waters of life lie beneath that politically potent piece of real estate called Jerusalem--a metaphor for the recognition that the solution to the problems of water is ultimately political. Who owns water? Who processes it? Who controls it? Who wants to steal it? Who can?
In transnational water disputes, which is the most dangerous? When the upstream nation is more powerful than the downstream, and therefore more cavalier about taking into account downstream needs? When the downstream nation is more powerful, in which case the upstream nation risks retaliation for any careless handling of the supply? Or when both countries are water stressed and more or less equal in power? The pessimists will say all three are dangerous. Egypt, a powerful downstream riparian, has several times threatened to go to war over Nile water; only the fact that both Sudan and Ethiopia have been wracked by civil war and are too poor to develop "their" water resources has so far prevented conflict. In the Euphrates Basin, Turkey is militarily more potent than Syria, but that hasn't stopped the Syrians from threatening violence. And there are endless examples of powers that are similar in military might, but have threatened war: along the Mekong River, along the Parana, and other places. In the Senegal Valley of West Africa, water shortages contributed to recent violent skirmishes between MaurHania and Senegal, complicated by the ethnic conflict between the black Africans and the paler-skinned Moors who control MaurHania. On the other side of the country, desperate Mauritanians wrecked a Malian village after cattle herders refused to let them cross the border to water their cattle at a well.
There are those who think the possibility of water wars overblown. The Canadian security analyst Thomas Homer-Dixon, a name that pops up as a footnote in numberless academic papers, is one of the skeptics.  Homer-Dixon's research found virtually no examples of state violence associated with renewable resources like fish, forests, or water, but many associated with non-renewables like oil or iron. He pooh-poohs the alarmists, though he acknowledges that "water supplies are needed for all aspects of national activity, including the production and use of military power, and rich countries are as dependent on water as poor countries are . . .  Moreover, about 40 percent of the world's population lives in the 250 river basins shared by more than one country . . . But the story is more complicated than it first appears. Wars over river water between upstream and downstream neighbors are likely only in a narrow set of circumstances. The downstream country must be highly dependent on the water for its national well-being; the upstream country must be able to restrict the river's flow; there must be a history of antagonism between the two countries; and, most important, the downstream country must be militarily much stronger than the upstream country."
He found only one case that fit all his criteria: Egypt and the Nile.  Not everyone agrees with this analysis, thinking it overly optimistic.

"This is a term devised by environmentalists for a type of conflict (most probably a form of guerrilla warfare) due to an acute shortage of water for drinking and irrigation. About 40 per cent of the world's populations are already affected to some degree, but population growth, climate change and rises in living standards will worsen the situation: the UN Environment Agency warns that almost 3 billion people will be severely short of water within 50 years. Experts point to the disaster of the Aral Sea, which has already lost three-quarters of its water through diversion for irrigation of the rivers feeding it. Possible flash points have been predicted in the Middle East, parts of Africa and in many of the world's major river basins, including the Danube. The term has been used for some years to describe disputes in the southern and south-western United States over rights to water extraction from rivers and aquifers." --Michael Quinion, World Wide Words, 1996-2006.
In 1989 Margaret Thatcher carried out a huge water privatisation scheme for the whole of England and Wales. Suddenly a precious natural shared resource was taken from the British people, sold off and privatised. The British people now had to pay the water companies, not just to provide water, but to make a profit for their shareholders and to pay huge management salaries. Water bills doubled in less than a decade, causing hardship in many parts of the UK. There were 50,000 disconnections during this period and water quality steadily deteriorated.
By 1990 international water companies operated in 12 countries.
Between 1994 and 1998 there were 139 water-related deals. However, in most parts of the first world, governments continued to safeguard their water resources and to provide a public service for their people. This got in the way of the global water companies, who wanted to buy up these public utilities. So they began to form partnerships with international financial institutions so that they could reduce the role that traditional governments played in water provision.
The first two of these partnerships, the Global Water Partnership (GWP) and the World Water Council (WWC) were formed in 1996 with Ismail Serageldin, the World Bank Vice-President, in the chair of the WWC. Once these partnerships had been formed water companies could now negotiate and collaborate with multilateral banks and the United Nations.
The World Water Council held its first meeting, the World Water Forum, in Marrakesh in 1997.
In 1998 the World Water Council created the World Water Commission, which included all the major water corporations and the CEO of the World Bank/UN Global Environment Facility, Mohamed T. El-Ashry. The commission called for full deregulation of the water sector and recommended that trans-national corporations should take over the provision of water worldwide.
By the year 2000 private water corporations operated in 100 countries and 10% of the world's water was privatised. In 2000 the World Bank, the UN and some of the largest water corporations met at the second World Water Forum, in Den Haag, Netherlands. They decided to accelerate global water privatisation.
In May 2000 Fortune Magazine predicted that water would become "one of the world's biggest business opportunities".
Ever since they began to collaborate with the World Bank, trans-national water corporations have been trying to have more influence over individual countries. A series of trade agreements have all increased the power of the trans-national water companies. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and various World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreements all gave trans-national water corporations access to the water of the countries that had signed these agreements. Governments all over the world signed away their right to control their country's water supplies.
The two biggest water corporations, Suez and Vivendi, now provide water for 230 million people, 7% of the world's population, mostly in Europe. In the US 85% of households still get their water from public utilities. But the water corporations are putting pressure on Congress, lobbying for laws which will protect them from lawsuits over contaminated water. This legislation will make it easier for the water corporations to take over water provision. The British parliament has already passed a law providing UK water companies with indemnity against lawsuits brought against them by the public.
Water Privatisation in the Third World
The World Bank and the IMF are now putting pressure on third world countries to sell off their water to multinational corporations in order to reduce their national debt. Together with international development organisations, they have been promoting the idea that the only way to provide water in the third world is through the private sector. Third world countries have huge national debts, which they struggle to pay, so in many cases the IMF has made further loans to these countries, on condition that they conform to structural adjustment programmes, including the privatisation of their water supplies. As in the west, water privatisation causes increased costs, which in the case of the poorest people in the world, they cannot afford to pay.
So in the poorest parts of the world, people (mainly women) are forced to walk further and further in search of water which has not been privatised, water which is often neither safe nor clean. In some cases people have to choose between buying water and buying food. In Ghana today, since water privatisation, the cost of water has doubled, so that families lucky enough to have running water must now pay a quarter of their income for it and a bucket of water can cost up to a tenth of most people's daily earnings.
Protests against Water Privatisation
In Cochabamba, Bolivia water rates increased by 35% after the water company Bechtel bought the city's water in 1999. The citizens of Cochabamba were so incensed that they marched, protested and rioted. Eventually the Bolivian government voided Bechtel's contract. There have been protests against water privatisation in Paraguay, Panama, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, India, Pakistan, Hungary and South Africa.


Water Wars: Myths and Realities (Part I)
What a difference a few years make. In the mid-1990s, Ismail Serageldin, then the World Bank's Vice President for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development, declared, "If the wars of this [20th] century were fought over oil, the wars of the next century will be fought over water."
In contrast, in the Brundtland Commission's seminal 1987 Report, Our Common Future, water use issues on a global scale were a relatively minor concern, warranting only one paragraph out of the report's nearly 400 pages.

The Tigris and Euphrates rivers are a water lifeline in the arid Middle East. The alluvial plain between the two rivers was the cradle of ancient civilizations including Assyria, Babylonian, and Sumer. Millions in the ancient land of Mesopotamia have been supported by its waters. Today these rivers represent a precious resource for the people of the region.
They are already in conflict over these two rivers. Turkey's massive dam building projects, especially the GAP project, have upset the riparian states of Syria and Iraq. With over half the flow of both rivers generated in Turkey, the dams put the country in a position to regulate river flow. Syria and Iraq have worried that Turkish irrigation and electricity generation needs will determine how much water flows to them, and have disputed Turkish claims to guarantee a minimum flow. UNESCO recently announced at the a body of scientific mediators would be formed to handle international water disputes such as these.
The introduction of Bechtel, a company which has a history of aggravating water conflict (see Bolivia below), into the situation is a recipe for disaster. Its contract for rebuilding Iraq includes, but is not limited to "municipal water systems and sewage systems, major irrigation structures, and the dredging, repair and upgrading of the Umm Qasr seaport." Bechtel's past record of pushing the privatization of water has destabilized local communities in other parts of the world. In the parched middle-east, with an already seething international water dispute, an attempt by a multinational water giant to grab this precious resource could spark ongoing water wars.  

Bechtel in Bolivia
The most famous tale of Bechtel's corporate greed over water is the story of Cochabamba, Bolivia. In the semi-desert region, water is scarce and precious. In 1999, the World Bank recommended privatisation of Cochabamba's municipal water supply company (SEMAPA) through a concession to International water, a subsidiary of Bechtel. On October 1999, the Drinking Water and Sanitation Law was passed, ending government subsidies and allowing privatization.
In a city where the minimum wage is less than $100 a month water bills reached $20 a month, nearly the cost of feeding a family of five for two weeks. In January 2000, a citizen's alliance called "La Coordinara" de Defense del Aqua y de la Vida (The Coalition in Defense of Water and Life) was formed and it shut down the city for 4 days through mass mobilisation. Between Jan and Feb 2000, millions of Bolivians marched to Cochabamba, had a general strike and stopped all transportation]. The government promised to reverse the price hike but never did. In February 2000, La Coordinara organised a peaceful march demanding the repeal of the Drinking Water and Sanitation Law, the annulment of ordinances allowing privatization, the termination of the water contract, and the participation of citizens in drafting a water resource law. The citizens' demands, which drove a stake at corporate interests, were violently repressed. Coordinora's fundamental critique was directed at the negation of water as a community property. Protesters used slogans like "Water is God's gift and not a merchandise" and "Water is life". 
In April, 2000 the government tried to silence the water protests through market law. Activists were arrested, protestors were killed, and media was censored. Finally on April 10, 2000, the people won. Aquas del Tunari and Bechtel left Bolivia. The government was forced to revoke its hated water privatisation legislation. The water company Servico Municipal del Aqua Potable y Alcantarillado (SEMAPO) was handed over to the workers and the people, along with the debts. In summer 2000, La Coordinadora organised public hearings to establish democratic planning and management. The people have taken on the challenge to establish a water democracy, but the water dictators are trying their best to subvert the process. Bechtel is suing Bolivians, and the Bolivian government is harassing and threatening activists of La Coordinadora.
If we go by the lessons from Bolivia, Bechtel will try and control the water resources, not just the water works of Iraq. If the international community and the Iraqis are not vigilant, Bechtel could try and own the Tigris and Euphrates, as it tried to "own" the wells of Bolivia.

Bechtel in India
In India Bechtel was involved with Enron in the infamous Dabhol power plant project. This disastrous project involved the suppression of local protests, circumventing environmental regulations, and secret deals worth billions of dollars. The parties in the state government elections even fought over this issue, with the party opposed to the deal winning the election, but then turning around and cutting a new contract for the power plant anyway.
Bechtel is now involved in water privatisation of Coimbatore/Tirrupur as part of a consortium with Mahindra and Mahindra, United International North West Water. As with other water privatisation contracts, the contract has not been made public. Business that can only be carried out behind closed doors, under secrecy, does not promote freedom. It extinguishes both freedom and democracy.
 
 
The drought-hit Mediterranean island of Cyprus will seek to import water from Lebanon instead of imposing consumption restrictions, the agriculture minister said on Friday.

"One key measure we are looking at is the transportation of water in tankers from a neighboring country, and our efforts are focusing on Lebanon," Michalis Polynikis told reporters after holding a crisis meeting on Friday.

He said experts are now examining the feasibility of shipping large quantities of water by tanker from Lebanon, with a final decision expected in 10 days.

Polynikis said Lebanon is willing to give Cyprus large quantities of water free of charge, so the only cost would be transportation. There is also the logistics of getting the water from the ports to a reservoir once it arrives by ship.

Crisis talks were held to find ways to survive a chronic water shortage brought on by a two-year drought and non-seasonal warm weather.
 

'How to survive the Great Depression of 2008 - 2009'

 
...So, enough of 'I told you so'. Now I want to help those in need. What do you do now that you are screwed? The bankruptcy laws have changed for the worse (thank you congress) and you are in deep financial trouble. I am here to help you see what to do. Based on the fact that I was the only one to foresee what is now happening, I will give you my advice for the next year.

Your house – lose it. Give up on it (assuming you are having problems paying for it.) You can buy the same house in 2 years for 2001 prices and get it for a few hundred thousand dollars less. If you are in duress and having problems with the payment, stop paying it. Stay in the house as long as you can. Fight the foreclosure at every turn. Doing the 'right thing' by paying your bills until you go broke and lose everything anyway is not good economic sense for you and your family. If you continue to try to keep up you will not only lose the house but you will be destitute and heading towards homelessness. Pride destroys finances.

Fight the foreclosure – Answer any papers sent to you by the bank. You will have 20 days to respond, wait til 18 go by and overnight it. Complain about the loan and the company and the mortgage broker. They will have 20 days to respond. And so on and so on. This will give you 3 to 12 months in your house rent and mortgage free...

'When people did help they were given a flattering name. They were "editors" '

From: How I fell in love with Wikipedia

It was like a giant community leaf-raking project in which everyone was called a groundsman. Some brought very fancy professional metal rakes, or even back-mounted leaf-blowing systems, and some were just kids thrashing away with the sides of their feet or stuffing handfuls in the pockets of their sweatshirts, but all the leaves they brought to the pile were appreciated.

And the pile grew and everyone jumped up and down in it, having a wonderful time. And it grew some more, and it became the biggest leaf pile anyone had ever seen, a world wonder.

And then self-promoted leaf-pile guards appeared, doubters and deprecators who would look askance at your proffered handful and shake their heads, saying that your leaves were too crumpled or too slimy or too common, throwing them to the side. And that was too bad. The people who guarded the leaf pile this way were called "deletionists".

But that came later. First it was just fun.

Wikipedia flourished partly because it was a shrine to altruism. It also had a head start: from the beginning the project absorbed articles from the celebrated 1911 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica [4], which is in the public domain. And not only the 1911 Britannica. Also absorbed were Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography, Nuttall's 1906 Encyclopedia, Chambers' Cyclopedia, Aiken's General Biography, Rose's Biographical Dictionary, Easton's Bible Dictionary and many others.

But the sources and the altruism do not fully explain why Wikipedia became such a boom town.

Week of Truth - 16-22 April

"The First Major Nationally Coordinated 9/11 Truth Effort to BREAK THE CORPORATE MEDIA BLOCKADE!"

This is the first in a series of Week of Truth events to coalesce the power of the national truth movement. Following this Week of Truth action, we will draw attention to two major 9/11 conferences in the Northeast to be tentatively scheduled in the month of May.

The current installment of the Week of Truth features New York Times Best Selling Author, Steve Alten and his new book, The Shell Game. Our effort is to be a focused, movement wide attempt to bring The Shell Game into the Top 10 of the New York Times Best Seller List.

'The two party corporate political system is having a HOMELAND presidential campaign—Hillary, Obama, McCain, Election, Lacking, Actual, National, Debate'

 
The 2008 presidential race is a media entertainment spectacle with props, gossip, accusations, and public relations. It is impression management from a candidates' perspective. How can we fool the most people into believing that we stand for something? It is billions of dollars of gravy for the media folks and continued profit maximunization for the war machine, Wall Street, and insurance companies no matter who is determined the winner in November. 

We must face the fact that the US government's primary mission is to protect the wealthy and insure capital expansion worldwide. The US military—spending more than the rest of the militaries of the world combined—is the muscle behind this protect-capital-at-all-costs agenda, and will be used against the American people if deemed necessary to support the mission.

Homeland Security, the North American Command, mass arrest practices with the FALCON raids, new detentions centers, and broadened "terrorism" laws to included interference with business profits are all now in place to insure domestic tranquility through extra judicial means if needed.

'Bringing to mind the "stay-behind" Gladio NATO secret armies, involved in "terrorismo nero" during the 1970-80s'

 
The Department of Anti-terrorism Strategic Studies (Italian: Dipartimento Studi Strategici Antiterrorismo, DSSA) is an Italian organization reported to have been set up in 2004 and under investigation since July 2005
 
The DSSA became the subject of investigation by Italian police in July 2005 for composing a "parallel police", bringing to mind the "stay-behind" Gladio NATO secret armies, involved in "terrorismo nero" during the 1970-80s. The "parallel police" had been created by far-right members Gaetano Saya and Riccardo Sindoca, two leaders of the National Union of the Police Forces (Unpf), a trade-union present in all the state security forces. Both claimed they were former members of Gladio, while far-right Nuovo Movimento Sociale Italiano - Destra Nazionale website described Gaetano Saya as a founding member and president of the party, while Riccardo Sindoca was described as an "expert in criminology" and Destra Nazionale 's Cabinet chief. Destra Nazionale was founded in 2000 as a successor to Giorgio Almirante's will and the Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI) neofascist party.

The group allegedly conducted police-like operations, surveilling supects, writing reports and running background checks by illegally accessing the Interior Ministry's protected datafiles. They also allegedly falsified law enforcement badges. Moreover, among the false information the DSSA allegedly provided, were details of planned al-Qaeda attacks against Milan's Linate international airport and the city's landmark Duomo cathedral. The alleged aim was to benefit from funding that became available nationally and internationally after the 11 March, 2004 Madrid blasts, as part of the global "war on terror". DSSA allegedly tried to obtain such funds from NATO, the United States and Israel.

Some 25 people were being investigated, but the group was thought to be composed of about 200 persons. Roughly half of the 25 suspects are Italian law enforcement, including Carabinieri, prison guards and financial police. According to the DSSA website - closed after the Italian medias' revelations -, Fabrizio Quattrocchi, murdered in Iraq after being taken hostage, was there "for the DSSA". DSSA founder Gaetano Saya subsequently denied these allegations, indicating in 150 the number of people involved.Furthermore, according to juridical sources, the DSSA was trying to obtain international and national recognition by intelligence agencies, in order to obtain financement for its parallel activities. Il Messaggero, quoting juridical sources, also declared that wiretaps suggested that DSSA members had been planning to kidnap Cesare Battisti, a former communist activist wanted by the Italian justice. "We were seeing the genesis of something similar to the death squads in Argentina" the magistrate is reported to have said. Italian press talked about "another Gladio", referring to NATO's "stay-behind" clandestine paramilitary groups during the Cold War.

 

From: Italy probes 'parallel police'

Italian police have launched a big inquiry into a "parallel" intelligence agency, say Italian news reports.

The Department of Anti-terrorism Strategic Studies (DSSA) was reportedly created after the 2004 Madrid bombings to combat Islamic extremism.

Genoa-based investigators carrying out a probe into the DSSA have arrested two people and placed more than two dozen others under investigation.

[ ... ]

Italian state radio Rai later reported that the two arrested men may have had links with Gladio, the Italian branch of a secret paramilitary network set up in post-war Europe with the backing of the CIA.

There are also reports of a possible connection with a far-right political group.

The investigation that uncovered the alleged parallel structure is an offspring of a previous inquiry into the death of Fabrizio Quattrocchi, one of four Italians kidnapped in Iraq in April 2004.

'Politicized, illegal intelligence structures that rely upon cooperative business executives'

 
Investigations into the alleged suicides of both Adamo Bove and Costas Tsalikidis raise questions about more than the suspicious circumstances of their deaths. They point to politicized, illegal intelligence structures that rely upon cooperative business executives. European prosecutors and journalists probing these spying networks have revealed that:

-- the Vodaphone eavesdropping was transmitted in real time via four antennae located near the U.S. embassy in Athens, according to an 11-month Greek government investigation. Some of these transmissions were sent to a phone in Laurel, Md., near America's National Security Agency.

-- according to Ta Nea, a Greek newspaper, Vodaphone's CEO privately told the Greek government that the bugging culprits were "U.S. agents." Because Greece's prime minister feared domestic protests and a diplomatic war with the United States, he ordered the Vodafone CEO to withhold this conclusion from his own authorities investigating the case.

-- in both the Italian and Greek cases, the spyware was much more deeply embedded and clever than anything either phone company had seen before. Its creation required highly experienced engineers and expensive laboratories where the software could be subjected to the stresses of a national telephone system. Greek investigators concluded that the Vodaphone spyware was created outside of Greece.

-- once placed, the spyware could have vast reach since most host companies are merging their Internet, mobile telephone and fixed-line operations onto a single platform.

-- Germany's Federal Intelligence Service, BND, recently snooped on investigative journalists. According to parliamentary investigations, the spying may have been carried out using the United States's secretive Bad Aibling base in the Bavarian Alps, which houses the American global eavesdropping program dubbed Echelon.

Were the two alleged suicides more than an eerie coincidence? A few media in Italy -- La Stampa, Dagospia and Feltrinelli, among others -- have noted the unsettling parallels. But so far no journalists have been able to overcome the investigative hurdles posed by two entirely different criminal inquiry systems united only by two prime ministers not eager to provoke the White House's wrath. In the United States, where massive eavesdropping programs have operated since 9/11, investigators, reporters and members of Congress have not explored whether those responsible for these spying operations may be using them for partisan purposes or economic gain. As more troubling revelations come out of Europe, it may become more difficult to ignore how easily spying programs can be hijacked for illegitimate purposes. The brave soul who pursues this line of inquiry, however, should fear for his or her life.


SIDEBAR -- Italy special place in the heart of the Dirty War

'We cannot fight terrorism the American way'

 
By Shireen M Mazari
9 April, 2008

The photo-op of the London meeting between the MQM's leader and the US ambassador to Pakistan should be a reality check for anyone who believes the US is concerned about its influence waning in Pakistan with the realignment of political forces. Even if one were to forget about the Balusa Group's influence in the decision-making circles, what should one make of the continuing intrusiveness of US diplomats in Pakistan's domestic political domain? Nor should one rest easy about the US now being comfortable with Pakistan's nuclear capability. Even though the Pakistan government had rejected the 11 conditions which were part of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) being sought by the US, Washington has not given up on attempting to push its agendas forward in Pakistan.

We are still not clear whether the notorious General Hood is still coming to Pakistan, as it appears no one and no bureaucratic institution in Pakistan is prepared to claim an awareness of his nomination. This, of course, raises the question of whether the US simply sends whomsoever it selects with no consultation or approval being sought from the host state, or whether sensitive approvals bypass normal channels altogether?

Perhaps the most dangerous effort at intruding into Pakistan's sensitive issue areas is the ongoing effort to gain direct access to nuclear strategic matters. This scribe has learnt that in late February, following our elections, the US State Department floated a proposal through verbal contact via an assistant secretary level official of the section concerned, that the US would like to place a permanent official in place at their embassy in Islamabad to deal with nuclear issues relating to Pakistan – with the official maintaining direct access to the National Command Authority (NCA) Secretariat. The proposal, again, was not routed through either the Foreign or Defence Ministries but a direct approach was made to the NCA! Apparently, so far Pakistan has not given any response but it would be quite appropriate to be concerned about such a US move, especially since transparency is not available at our end on such issues.

The US continues to be niggardly in its payments of dues (not aid) to Pakistan which are part of the 2003 Camp David bilateral Agreement. According to reports early this month, the US has yet to pay $500 million which was to have come to Pakistan last year. It seems all Camp David Agreements include some level of servitude by Muslim states! Perhaps this would be an opportune moment to create space between us and the US and allow the US to discover whether rerouting its supplies and logistics through Russia instead of Pakistan will be as convenient. As for the clandestine US activities which have little to do with Afghanistan, through the base in Balochistan still in use, surely it is time to put an end to these? Pakistan certainly needs to wake up to the danger in which it is putting itself, in its strategic neighbourhood, as it turns a blind eye to questionable US activities on Pakistani territory. Incidentally, if the Predator's transponder is switched off, the radar cannot detect it in flight!

Meanwhile, there is a spark of hope at least on the move towards a more holistic approach on the war against terror, with the ANP not only standing firm but also moving on its commitment to use dialogue to break the extremists' cycle of violence in the tribal belt. In this connection, the statement of the NWFP chief minister in the Provincial Assembly, in which he declared an intent of putting the political forces in the vanguard of the dialogue, with the security forces being used for the maintenance of law and order is a proactive move which will give the political dimension of the anti-terror policy the needed primacy.

As for the issue of terrorism and extremism, the United States' credibility on opposing terrorism, per se, is being exposed not only with its use of Jundullah against the sovereign state of Iran, but also with the emergence of LTTE groups in the US itself. But, then, if one remembers how many Irish groups in the US financed the IRA for years, the present US antics and double talk on terrorism should not come as a surprise. In a similar vein, the emerging psychological terrorism emanating from Europe should also be a warning to the Muslim World. Through the absurdity of "freedom of speech," the Holy Quran and the Prophet (PBUH) are being abused even as anyone even questioning the Holocaust is pilloried, fined and imprisoned. The efforts of the government of the Netherlands to disassociate itself from a Dutch politician's abusive and hate-filled film against Islam, its Prophet (PBUH) and Muslims, while taking no action against the guilty person, is yet another example of hypocrisy in the name of "free speech." As the Dutch government put it: "All people in the Netherlands have the right to express their opinions without the prior consent of the authorities." Of course, that is true of many countries, including Pakistan. But what the Dutch government failed to state was that it has laws which allow action to be taken against those indulging in transgression of "free speech" – as would have happened if the Holocaust had been questioned or Nazism praised. Even the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms places ethical and legal boundaries on these rights and freedoms in Article 10.

Ironically, the Dutch government also called on other governments (aimed at Muslim states, of course) to "uphold the principles of international law, such as the obligation it enshrines to protect foreign interests, nationals and businesses." So, first the Dutch defend the right of their citizens to freely abuse Islam and indulge in psychological terrorism of the Muslims through this abuse. And then when Muslim passions are aroused they label us violent and extremist – adding to the dimension of psychological terrorism. Now we have had, for the second year consecutively, the desecration of Muslim graves in a French military cemetery. These were Muslims who fought and gave their lives for the liberty of the French state, even while they themselves were under French colonial rule.

Nor are the Brits any better in terms of their hypocrisy vis-a-vis their Muslim citizens. Time after time they want to prove how British Muslims become terrorists simply by visiting Pakistan! Clearly the Brits are unable to accept that there is something intrinsically skewed in their society which marginalises the Muslim youth who turn to extremism and violence. The extremist mindset has not evolved from their visit to Pakistan, but as a result of their marginalisation in Britain itself. In fact, in the future the major source of extremism and violence is going to come from the marginalised Muslim populations of Europe, not from our part of the world. So, perhaps it is time for the Europeans to do some introspection also, even as they are pontificating to us on such issues.

As for Pakistan, we need to examine the terrorist issue within the domestic perspective and identify the differing strands of this problem confronting us today. Some of us have been stating repeatedly that we cannot fight terrorism the American way, just as we cannot afford to push all our domestic strains of violence and terror under the convenient rubric of Al Qaeda and international terrorism. This has only made us more vulnerable to international interventions and prevented us from moving beyond a fire-fighting mode to a more holistic, nationally-defined long-term anti-terrorism strategy.


The writer is director general of the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad

'The largest death toll for Yellowstone’s buffalo since the 19th Century'

 
This has been a gruesome year for the buffalo of Yellowstone with nearly one third of the herd killed by state and federal authorities. The 1,465 animals slaughtered represent the largest death toll for Yellowstone's buffalo since the 19th Century, when the species was nearly wiped off the planet. On the heels of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report critical of the way that bison have been treated, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Buffalo Field Campaign, and Gallatin Wildlife Association have called for the Governor of Montana and administrators of the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) to immediately put a bold plan in place to stop the slaughter. The plan centers on a specific geographic area west of the park, where the factors that normally cloud the buffalo debate are not present. A moratorium on buffalo slaughter and harassment at Horse Butte will allow the herds time to recover while a more humane management plan can be put into place.

"There is a way out of this senseless slaughter," said Louisa Willcox, senior wildlife advocate for the NRDC. "I think everyone recognizes that a change is needed here---but the same issues of conflict with cattle and property rights issues always short circuit public debate. Those issues do not apply at Horse Butte. This proposal gives the buffalo a chance to recover while the state and federal authorities get time to look at the criticism from community groups and the GAO report. I am confident we can find a better way to manage these national icons."

In the coming weeks, Yellowstone buffalo will make their annual migration westward to calving grounds where they can find food and safely birth new calves. Many will head to the Horse Butte peninsula, located outside of Yellowstone's western border in Montana. Typically, state and federal officials have attempted to aggressively force the animals back into the park for fear of potential disease transmission to cattle. This "hazing" of the animals has created some ugly and unfortunate situations with calves being trampled by the startled stampede.
 
 
 
Yellowstone is home to America's only wild bison who have continuously occupied their native habitat. This winter, Yellowstone National Park and the State of Montana have engaged in an unprecedented slaughter or removal of over 1,550 bison that have migrated to their winter range near and beyond park borders. One-third of the entire bison herd has been wiped out with 1,284 captured and shipped to slaughterhouses on order from officials in the National Park Service and the Montana Department of Livestock under Governor Brian Schweitzer.

"The Park Service's current course is to slaughter bison without concern as to the damage being done to the genetic diversity of the distinct bison populations in Yellowstone," explains D.J. Schubert, a wildlife biologist with the Animal Welfare Institute. "The petition raises a red flag that unprecedented, large scale slaughtering of wild bison is jeopardizing their long term survival."

The petition presents scientific evidence of at least two genetically distinct bison populations inhabiting the park. The National Park Service currently manages the bison in the park without consideration of this evidence.

To ensure bison's long-term survival and health, the National Park Service must sustain a minimum of 2,000 bison in each distinct bison population. That number would ensure that genetic diversity is conserved -- allowing bison to naturally evolve and adapt to a changing environment, and retain important survival behaviors like natural migration and selection.

The coalition says the National Park Service has ignored this science and failed to adapt its bison management plan to ensure the long-term survival of each distinct bison population.

The petition, submitted under the authority of the Administrative Procedures Act, asks Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne to publish an emergency rule prohibiting the National Park Service from killing or participating in the killing of bison, or otherwise permanently removing bison from either population, when the population is reduced to 2,000 or fewer bison. Both bison populations have been reduced to fewer than 2,000 animals this winter.

Trial of Cambodian coup-plotter underway in California

 
Prosecutors say Chhun Yasith was the mastermind of an attack eight years ago on government institutions in Cambodia's capital, including the ministry of defense, the Council of Ministers and a military headquarters building.

In the attempt to overthrow Hun Sen, about 60 armed men stormed into Phnom Penh firing AK-47 rifles and rockets at government buildings, leaving at least four people dead. More than 100 people were jailed for the attack.

Several policemen were wounded in the attack, codenamed "Operation Volcano," that left an unknown number of CFF attackers dead and wounded, but which left Hun Sen unscathed according to US prosecutors in Los Angeles.

A federal indictment against Chhun Yasith alleged that he traveled to the Cambodia-Thailand border in August 1998 to meet Cambodian military personnel opposed to the ruling party.

Prosecutors say the CFF was born at the meeting and that the defendant agreed to raise funds to help bankroll the coup attempt.

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image from http://www.spitting-image.net

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